Sian Napier

07 Dec 2022 13:56

The Diary of an Expectant Greenhouse Gardener: Part 5

Today is the day, the wait is over!

It’s a beautiful Monday morning, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and its very early. I’m standing in the garden with a coffee in hand, staring at the rectangle of bricks which I laid to be the base to the new greenhouse, and I must be honest; I’m Saying a small prayer. Please God, let the greenhouse fit perfectly on these bricks. Chris my husband knows I’m a bit worried and keeps telling me it will be fine. Well, I hope so, as the van containing my precious greenhouse has just pulled up on the drive.


Our two fitters, Aidan and Liam arrive and after a quick inspection of the base, simply nod their heads and say, “yeah, that’ll do, no problem”, and that’s, that. Apparently all that worry for nothing. I was so relieved.

With coffee orders taken they both crack on, and I have to say they moved very quickly, firstly they unloaded all their essential tools and then out of the van came the greenhouse, panel by panel.

The Gabriel Ash greenhouses are made from Western Red Cedar and obtained from renewable sources. The timber itself contains natural oils, which protect the timber from the elements, this prevents damp penetration and rot, which means that there is no need for staining or preservative treatments. Over time the timber will fade to a soft silver colour which will be both aesthetically pleasing and will sit naturally within the garden.


The greenhouse quickly began to take shape, with each panel fitting precisely to the next. The timber may be Canadian, but the design and manufacture are carried out in Cheltenham by craftsmen. I was amazed at how fast it was growing and was really impressed how hard the guys were working, especially as the day was getting hotter by the minute.


As the gable ends went on, I was able to appreciate the extra height that RHS Wisley Plant House was going to give us. The greenhouse has been based on a Traditional Edwardian design and harks back to an era when plant collectors used to bring home exotic and large plants from across the globe and needed the extra height to accommodate them. It is quite an imposing but elegant structure.

As the temperature began to rise into the high twenties, the guys drank gallons of iced water to help keep them cool and hydrated and we offered them a BLT sandwich to help keep their energy up. Still, they pressed on. It became so hot that the sun heated up the aluminium A frame that sits inside the green house and gives it support, making it literally too hot to handle.

In this picture you can clearly see the aluminium supports that maintain the integrity of the structure and help protect it from strong winds, it is this support that is firmly bolted to the base and part of the reason why the base must be just right.

I’ve added lots of photos in order to demonstrate, the building process and to show you just how slick it was. Here you can see the roof panels which will hold the sheets of reinforced glass being added. These panels are narrower than those of a modern greenhouse, adding a touch of elegance in the Edwardian style.  

In this picture the glass is in, and you can see the aluminium capping that is used to weatherproof the roof panels where they hold the glass in place. There are also aluminium gutters and downpipes which are used for the collection of rainwater, which can be collected, stored and later used for watering the tomatoes and other plants. The metal strip along the ridge of the roof is part of the automatic ventilation system, wax filled pistons expand as the temperature rises opening the vents, allowing cool air to enter the greenhouse. At this point the guys were nearly finished with just one of the carved finials left to be fitted.

Om Sian Napier

Sian Napier is a freelance garden designer and gardener with over 15 years professional horticultural experience to build beautiful garden spaces for her clients using plants to create movement, texture and all year season colour and interest.

Follow her journey of living with a Gabriel Ash Greenhouse and learn about different aspects of growing through the seasons.

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